Sourdough orange blossom brioches polonaises

Slightly healthier brioches polonaises recipe! With sourdough or standard brioches, orange blossom water and candied fruit! :)

Celebration cakes and treats, Special everyday cakes and treats

These addictive traditional French pastries have been out of fashion but fully deserve a comeback. Small brioche buns are sliced in three then the layers soaked in rum syrup and interspersed with crème pâtissière and chopped candied fruit.  They’re encased in a layer of Italian meringue, sprinkled with flaked almonds and baked in the oven a few minutes.  They’re absolutely heavenly and for a faster simpler no-bake version you could buy brioche buns and use a blowtorch.  These polonaises are slightly healthier with homemade sourdough brioche and a rum syrup and orange blossom flavoured pastry cream sweetened with pure maple syrup rather than sugar.  You could also leave out the rum and replace the candied fruit with fresh.  It’s hard to go wrong with these deliciously dreamy brioches polonaises!  They can be extra Christmassy and cheerful with candied fruit on top and a cake angel behind…

Sourdough orange blossom brioches polonaises

Sourdough orange blossom brioches polonaises

… or sophisticated snowballs sprinkled solely with flaked almonds.

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

I really recommend you try these and have already made them four times just for quality control (tee hee).  They were a great hit at a dinner party and are a fantastic chilly weather comfort food.  They come out a little different each time and are satisfying but not too sweet or heavy.  I’ve been dreaming of making these since I bit into one over 10 years ago in Paris – yes I’m a bit slow but it was well worth the wait!

You may be asking yourself ‘Why is this brioche polonaise?’  Is it Polish?  Good question.  Well after lots of research (in other words surfing the internet like crazy when I should be doing other stuff) I could find no conclusive evidence that these cakes originated in Poland and just saw vague statements on a couple of blogs about them being Polish. Instead the brioche polonaise is generally believed to have Parisian origins with bakers refreshing unsold day-old brioche to create these simply heavenly viennoiseries for their clients the following day.  Hurray for the pâtissiers!  Yum yum…

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

Looking at these photos I’m feeling the strongest urge to make and eat them again… 🙂  Here are more pics of prototypes just for further torture.  Spot the badly-cut one in bad lighting.🤣

There was a mini Christmas log too which was nice but a bit unstable – next time I’d use a less skinny loaf mould.

Brioche polonaise christmas log

So let’s look at the recipe now!

RECIPE – makes 6 to 8 polonaises, depending on the size of your brioches.  I used buns each made with 50g of dough. The brioche recipe yields enough dough for additional burger buns and a loaf.

The sourdough brioches are adapted from the recipe on the Sourdough Schoolhouse online pastry course which I’d recommend for its printable recipes, clear videos, tips and friendly support from the tutor Shannon.  My recipe incorporates the French kneading technique so useful for light sticky doughs.  Alternatively make brioche buns with fresh or dried yeast following my previous plaited brioche recipe.  Or buy some!

The crème pâtissière and rum syrup are both solely sweetened with maple syrup but can be substituted with honey or sugar.  Instead of candied fruit you could try healthier dried fruit like sultanas and dried apricots.  And omit them from the decoration for a more classic look.

Brioches polonaises


A digital weighing scale is useful if making sourdough brioche as it’s difficult to measure sourdough starter with a cup.

SOURDOUGH BRIOCHE (scroll down to ASSEMBLING if you already have your brioche buns)

DAY 1 evening – refresh your usual 100% hydration sourdough starter

DAY 2 morning – make levain (6-10 hours before mixing the dough ingredients) with your active sourdough starter:

  • 20g/scant 1/8 cup sourdough starter
  • 100g/ml tepid water (between 23-27ºC/74-80ºF)
  • 100g/3/4 cup less 1 tsp organic strong white bread flour

Whisk together starter and water then stir in flour.  Leave in a tall jar covered or lightly covered to ferment until more or less doubled in size, bubbly and active.

DAY 2 afternoon/evening – mix dough and bulk ferment 

Timings:  takes about 5 hours overall.

  • 600g/4 and 3/4 cups strong white flour
  • 120g/ml full-fat milk
  • 180g/scant 1 cup of your prepared active sourdough levain (made 6 – 10 hours ago so it’s bubbly and more or less doubled in size) – it will be almost all of your prepared levain less 1 tablespoon.
  • 300g beaten egg at room temperature (about 5 and 1/2 medium-large free-range eggs)
  • 240g/1 cup unsalted butter cut into smallish pieces and softened at room temperature (good quality French-style like le Président)
  • 60g/1/4 cup unrefined sugar – I use unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 12g/2 tsp fine sea salt

Method – please follow your usual sourdough brioche method or that on my sourdough brioche recipe page here.  Following bulk fermentation place in the fridge overnight.  It will rise a bit in the fridge.

Sourdough brioche dough overnight fridge fermentation

DAY 3 – Shape, proof and bake brioche buns

Timings:  about 30 mins to warm a little from fridge; shaping: 15 mins + 20 mins waiting; proofing:  3 to 5 hours or more; baking:  buns,12-14 mins and larger loaves, 20-30 mins.  Cooling:  about 1 hour.

Divide up dough, shape and bake following instructions on my brioche pageThe dough should weigh between 1250 and 1340g.  Shape 8 x 50g buns for our polonaises then divide up remaining dough as you prefer.  For example:

Sourdough brioche shapes for final proof

3 to 5 hours later or more (depending on room temperature) bake when the brioche has almost doubled in size and passes the poke test (see brioche page linked above).

Baking sourdough brioche buns

Allow the polonaise buns to cool completely before filling the same day or like French pâtissiers fill the following day when the buns are drier.  You can also freeze the buns once completely cool and defrost half a day at room temperature before assembling.


DAY 3 or 4

Crème pâtissière (pastry cream) – makes about 500g (exactly the right amount for the polonaise diplomat cream)

Make at least 2 hours before assembling or the previous day.

  • 375g/ml fresh full-fat milk
  • 90g/4 and 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or 90g sugar/honey)
  • 28g egg yolks (1 and 1/2 yolks from medium-large free-range eggs), save the 2 egg whites for the Italian meringue
  • 44g beaten egg (3/4 of a medium-large free-range egg)  So in total:  70 – 75g egg
  • 40g/4 tbsp + 1/2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch/Maizena)
  • 1/3 tsp pure vanilla extract, to taste
  • pinch of salt, optional

Please follow recipe here on my pastry cream page but for Step 1 just warm the milk (no infusion) and replace the sugar with maple syrup.  Whisk in the vanilla right at the end before pouring into a clean container.  Cover on contact with plastic film or thin reusable plastic bag and store in fridge until use.

Assembling brioches polonaises prep

  • Rum syrup
  • 80g/4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 50g/ml mineral water
  • 65g/ml (4 tbsp) dark rum, to taste and optional (could replace with additional 20g maple syrup + 30 – 40g mineral water, to taste – check sweetness)
  • Diplomat cream 
  • 500g crème pâtissière (the total amount you made)
  • 160g/ml liquid whipping cream (35%)
  • 15g/scant 1 tbsp orange blossom water, to taste
  • 120g-140g/4.2oz-4.9oz (about 3/4 cup) chopped candied fruit, to taste plus extra for decoration (or fresh fruit like redcurrants and blackcurrants, but I’d recommend warming them a little in a saucepan first with a spoon of maple syrup or sugar to get a nice texture and make them less sharp, then allow to cool)
  • Italian meringue
  • 77g egg whites (from 2 medium-large free-range eggs)
  • 132g/1/2 cup + 4 and 1/2 tsp   unrefined golden caster sugar (or standard caster/superfine sugar)
  • 46g/ml mineral water
  • Assembling:  a couple of handfuls flaked almonds, a few small cubes of candied fruit, optional

Rum syrup

Warm the maple syrup and water in a small saucepan on low-medium heat until quite hot but not simmering or boiling (you can see steam rising from the surface).  Take off heat and allow to cool down.  If using, stir in the rum to taste.

Diplomat cream

Let pastry cream come back to room temperature 20-30 minutes and refresh by whisking to make it creamy again.  Whisk the cold whipping cream to soft stiff peak.  Fold in 1/4 of the cream into the pastry cream (with a whisk if easier).  Fold in the remaining cream more delicately with a rubber spatula to get a light fluffy diplomat cream.

Diplomat cream


The amount of pastry cream in layers is for buns made with 50g of dough – please adjust for different sizes.  This illustration is printable (click on the image)…

Assembling brioches polonaises illustrated recipe

You can control the amount of candied fruit by not folding into the pastry cream but sprinkling on the layers of pastry cream as you assemble (and so make some brioches polonaises with none if you like) or add fresh fruit instead at this point.

Assembling brioches polonaises

Assembling brioches polonaises 2

Place in fridge 30 minutes or more to firm.  Make Italian meringue to cover.

Pre-heat oven to 200ºC/390ºF fan oven or 220ºC/430ºF static non-convection oven

Italian meringue

  • 77g egg whites (from 2 medium-large free-range eggs)
  • 132g/1/2 cup + 4 and 1/2 tsp unrefined golden caster sugar (or standard caster/superfine sugar)
  • 46g/ml mineral water

Make following my Italian meringue page recipe here.  Spread 1 – 2 tablespoons on top of each bun and smooth downwards with a small metal offset spatula, or butter knife.  Sprinkle with raw flaked almonds.  Add a few small cubes of candied fruit on top if you like (or add after baking).

Brioche polonaise - Italian meringue


Bake 5 to 10 minutes, until the almonds are golden brown and the meringue lightly browning and set.  A blowtorch can also be used.

Brioches polonaises


Allow them to cool to room temperature then place in fridge 1 hour or more before serving.  If serving the same day the appearance is more pristine but I really like the flavour on the second day.  Handle carefully as the meringue can start coming off – move around sliding an offset spatula knife or cake server under the cakes.  On Day 3 and 4 these cakes continue to be absolutely delicious and a wonderful treat to come home to after a hard day’s work! 🙂

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

The polonaise mystery and where to eat them

I continue to wonder about the Polish connection so let me know if you can shed light on this.  A recently-discovered article states the polonaise first showed up around the 19th century in Paris, England and the States in the form of similar entremets desserts like the Charlotte Polonaise!  But the modern-day charlotte polonaise looks like an apple tart!!!  Err?

On a practical note the article recommends the polonaises at Sébastian Gaudard and I thoroughly recommend the blackcurrant ‘cassis’ polonaise at Mori Yoshida which I have tested repeatedly (yum) and will try to recreate one day.  Yes both pâtisseries are far away in Paris, sob.

Mori Yoshida's flan and polonaise cassis

Next time could try doing that swirly helter-skelter effect you see in the photo.  Or something not as neat… 😉

Back to the fluffy snowballs, my slightly healthier brioches polonaises.  So worth making again and again!  Do try one!

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

Yum yum.

Sourdough orange blossom brioches polonaises

Sourdough brioches polonaises

Sourdough orange blossom brioche polonaise

Bye for now dears!  Have a wonderful week with more yummy baking and eating during this lovely run-up to the festive season. 🙂  Lili x

Posted by

Baking on Sundays with my French mum was a lovely part of my childhood. Later I experimented with baking books or internet recipes and did the pâtisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Still trying out new recipes and inventing cakes with influences from all around the world, including some healthier ones. Yes, love cakes!!! Hope you'll love them too and have fun baking. :)

3 thoughts on “Slightly healthier brioches polonaises recipe! With sourdough or standard brioches, orange blossom water and candied fruit! :)”

  1. Hello there

    I can read your entire post in my mail but the link is not working for me…. donyou think there is a problem with my browser?

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Slightly healthier brioches polonaises recipe! With sourdough or standard brioches, orange blossom water and candied fruit! :) — lili’s cakes | homethoughtsfromabroad626

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